This Day in History – 14 Teves – December 27

14 Teves

In 5275/1515, the Jews of Laibach, Austria were expelled.

In 5501/1740, the Jews of Chevron were saved from a harsh decree. The Pasha had ordered them to come up with 50,000 piasters or face expulsion and degradation. After three days of prayer and fast, the astronomical sum miraculously turned up on the shul’s windowsill, found by the shamash when he arrived in the morning; it was handed over to the greedy Pasha. Chevron’s “Purim Taka,” or “Window Purim,” commemorates the event.


5634/1874, Harav Levi Yitzchak of Stefin, zt”l

5764/2004, Harav Aryeh Leib Bakst, zt”l, founding Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivah Gedolah Ateres Mordechai, Detroit



Harav Alter Menachem Mendel of Lelov, zt”l

Harav Alter Menachem Mendel Biderman, the fourth son of the Lelover Rebbe, Harav Moshe Mordechai, was born on 4 Av 5695/1935. He was born into a home steeped in Torah and yiras Shamayim. The eagerness with which he served his Creator became apparent when he was very young, and remained with him all his life.

As a young man, he would daven fervently, moving his body from side to side. Someone once asked him jokingly why he prayed in this fashion, when shaking one’s head sideways would seem to indicate no. Why, the person asked, didn’t he pray with a more common forward and backward motion, which would be more suggestive of yes. His father, the Lelover Rebbe, heard this question and said, “You shall not teach my Alter how to daven!”

In his youth, he learned at Yeshivas Tiferes Tzion in Bnei Brak, the Chazon Ish’s yeshivah, and became close to the Chazon Ish. He used to walk with the Chazon Ish, discuss Torah with him and ask him questions regarding halachah.

In 5718/1958, Harav Alter married the daughter of Harav Shimon Aharon Hershkowitz, zt”l. In the early years of his marriage he learned at the Breslover kollel and also studied Kabbalah regularly with other Gedolei Torah during the early morning hours.

He was always exceptionally careful in matters of sanctity and made sure not to look at forbidden things. Once, he traveled on a bus, and there was a problem with regard to modesty. He told the person who was with him, “I am prepared to sell all I have, even my last piece of bread, but I shall never travel by bus again.”

After he founded a beis medrash on Rabi Akiva Street in Bnei Brak in 5725/1965, his father moved from Tel Aviv to Bnei Brak and davened there until his petirah.

Harav Alter was very attached to his father and accompanied him wherever he went. He was meticulous in the respect he showed him, and after his father was niftar, he referred to him as Der Rebbe, z”l, instead of as Der Tatte, to honor his memory.

He was particularly close to the previous Belzer Rebbe and would visit him every Motzoei Shabbos, attending the Rebbe’s melaveh malkah.

Harav Alter’s love for Torah knew no bounds. After his mother passed away in 5738/1978, he set up the Ohr Menachem Kollel, where dozens of avreichim still learn every day.

Harav Alter also founded the Ateres Moshe Lelov community in the United States, which is led by his oldest son, Harav Dovid Zvi Shlomo.

Following the petirah of his father on 24 Teves 5747/1987, Harav Alter was appointed one of his successors as Rebbe, in Bnei Brak.

After conducting a yahrtzeit tisch on the yahrtzeit of his grandfather, Harav Moshe of Lelov, on 14 Teves, 5761/2001, close to 2:00 a.m., he suddenly felt ill, and asked for a cup of water. After he recited Shehakol, his pure heart stopped beating. He had returned his neshamah to its Maker. He was 65.

Reb Alter was buried on Har Hazeisim, near the other Rebbes of the Lelover dynasty.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


Dec. 27

In 1945, 28 nations signed an agreement creating the World Bank.

In 1949, Queen Juliana of the Netherlands signed an act recognizing Indonesia’s sovereignty after more than three centuries of Dutch rule.

In 1968, Apollo 8 and its three astronauts made a safe, nighttime splashdown in the Pacific.

In 1985, Palestinian terrorists opened fire inside the Rome and Vienna airports; 19 victims were killed, plus four attackers who were slain by police and security personnel.

In 2004, radiation from an explosion on the magnetar SGR 1806-20 reached Earth. It is the brightest extrasolar event known to have been witnessed on the planet.

Ten years ago: Two truck bombs killed 72 and wounded 200 at the pro-Moscow headquarters of the Chechen government in Grozny, Chechnya.

Five years ago: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a shooting incident.

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